When do you go for a massage?
Sports massage can be used before, during, and after strenuous athletic events, like a big race. But even if not training for an endurance event, anyone who is regularly physically active may experience the benefits of sports massage. Proponents of the technique say it can reduce muscle tension and pain, lower blood pressure, increase blood circulation and lymph flow, improve flexibility and range of motion, and improve muscle recovery time.
The scientific research on sports massage is still fairly unclear. One recent study in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that male bodybuilders recovered more quickly when they had a sports massage immediately after a training session, while another recent study from Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales found that exercisers perceived no difference in muscle soreness when they received a sports massage following a plyometric workout.
Despite the cloudy research, if you enjoy massage and are an avid exerciser, a sports massage should at least feel good. “They’re especially great if you’re focused on a particular athletic pursuit—perhaps you’ve started lifting weights or taking CrossFit classes, or you’re a serious runner—because your therapist will target a specific muscle group or groups based on your preferred athletic activity,” says Marshall.
Your massage therapist can also show you self-maintenance techniques that will help your athletic endurance and performance between sports massages, like foam rolling and self-massage, so you’ll be loosey goosey and injury free!